Black Bream (2020)
Date Published: June 2021
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Black Bream is a primarily estuarine species found around Australia's southern coastline. Assessments are presented here for nine management units, distributed along the coasts of NSW, VIC, TAS, SA and WA. Of these units, four are classified as sustainable, one as depleting, one as depleted, and three as undefined.
Stock Status Overview
|Tasmania||Tasmania Scalefish Fishery||Sustainable||Catch|
Black Bream have a wide distribution in the estuaries of southern Australia from central New South Wales to the central Western Australian coast, including Tasmania [Kailola et al. 1993]. Black Bream are estuarine-dependent, completing much of their life cycle within a single estuary [Chaplin et al. 1997, Conron et al. 2016, Earl et al. 2016]. Genetic studies of Black Bream in Victoria and Western Australia have indicated that, while there has been gene flow between adjacent estuaries, there is evidence of isolation by distance between populations [Chaplin et al. 1997, Farrington et al. 2000, Burridge et al. 2004, Burridge and Versace 2007]. Results of tagging studies conducted in the Swan River [Norriss et al. 2002], Gippsland Lakes [Butcher and Ling 1962, Hindell et al. 2008] and the Coorong estuary [Hall 1984] found limited or no evidence of coastal migration or emigration between estuaries. This indicates that estuarine Black Bream populations should be managed as distinct biological stocks. However, for most fisheries management agencies this is not practical.
Black Bream and the closely related Yellowfin Bream, Acanthopagrus australis, also exhibit considerable levels of hybridisation where their distributions overlaps in south-eastern Australia [Farrington et al. 2000, Roberts et al. 2009, 2010, 2011, Ochwada-Doyle et al. 2012], further complicating status determination.
Furthermore, Black Bream growth, size- and age-at-maturity and recruitment are strongly influenced by environmental conditions, particularly fresh water influx into estuaries [Norriss et al. 2002, Cottingham 2008]. It is therefore likely that over local scales at least, annual recruitment strength depends on environmental conditions, with substantial inter-annual variation in recruitment affecting individual stock demographics and biomasses. These environmental drivers complicate management across multiple catchments.
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Western Australia West Coast Estuaries, Western Australia South Coast Estuaries (Western Australia); Southern New South Wales (New South Wales); Victoria Western Estuaries, The Gippsland Lakes, Victoria Eastern Estuaries (Victoria); Tasmania Scalefish Fishery (Tasmania); Lakes and Coorong Fishery and South Australia Marine Scalefish Fishery (South Australia).
Tasmania Scalefish Fishery
The sale of Black Bream from Tasmanian State waters has been prohibited since 1998, resulting in a cessation of significant harvest of the species for commercial purposes. Prior to 1998, Black Bream were harvested commercially using seine nets (including beach seine) and gillnets and, to a lesser extent, hand lines. Maximum commercial catches of 9.9 t were recorded in 1996–97. In the years following 1998, catches remained below 1 t, averaging only 38 kg over the last 10 years.
Black Bream are a popular target for recreational fishers in Tasmania. Recreational fishers target the species primarily in estuaries using lines with bait or lures. Catches have remained fairly stable over time, but dropped by about 50 per cent between the last two surveys in 2012–13 and 2017–18 [Lyle et al. 2009, Lyle et al. 2014, Lyle et al. 2019]. Release rates have increased markedly since 2001, reflecting a documented change in fisher ethic towards catch-and-release sports fishing [Lyle et al. 2009, Lyle et al. 2014, Lyle et al. 2019]. The estimated total recreational catch in 2012–13 was 59 000 fish, with an estimated 40 000 of these released [Lyle et al. 2014]. In 2017–18, total recreational catch was estimated at 27 000, with about 18 000 released and 9 000 kept [Lyle et al. 2019]. Post-release survival of Black Bream is considered to be high, but known to vary with hooking depth [Conron et al. 2010].
The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted, recruitment is unlikely to be impaired, and the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired. On the basis of this assumption, the Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.
Black Bream biology [Kuiter 1993, Sarre and Potter 2000, Walker and Neira 2001, Cheshire et al. 2013]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Black Bream||37 years, 600 mm TL||180–340 TL mm|
Distribution of reported commercial catch of Black Bream
|Bag and possession limits|
|Bag and possession limits|
|Recreational||16.7 t (in 2012–13), 27000 fish (18000 released) in 2017/18|
New South Wales – Recreational (catch) Murphy et al. .
New South Wales – https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing.
Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) A person who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is exempt from the need to obtain a Victorian recreational fishing licence, provided they comply with all other rules that apply to recreational fishers, including rules on equipment, catch limits, size limits and restricted areas. Traditional (non-commercial) fishing activities that are carried out by members of a traditional owner group entity under an agreement pursuant to Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 are also exempt from the need to hold a recreational fishing licence, subject to any conditions outlined in the agreement. Native title holders are also exempt from the need to obtain a recreational fishing licence under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993.
Tasmania – Recreational (management methods) In Tasmania, a recreational licence is required for fishers using dropline or longline gear, along with nets, such as gillnet or beach seine. The species is subject to a minimum size limit of 250 mm. A bag limit of five individuals and a possession limit of ten individuals is in place for recreational fishers fishing in marine waters.
Tasmania – Indigenous (management methods) In Tasmania, Indigenous persons engaged in traditional fishing activities in marine waters are exempt from holding recreational fishing licences, but must comply with all other fisheries rules as if they were licensed. If using pots, rings, set lines or gillnets, Indigenous fishers must obtain a unique identifying code (UIC). The policy document "Recognition of Aboriginal Fishing Activities” details application procedures for issuing a UIC.
Western Australia – Recreational (Management methods) In Western Australia a recreational fishing licence is only required for fishing from a boat. Black Bream are subjected to a minimum size limit of 250 mm TL and a bag limit of six(of which only two fish may be over 400 mm TL if fishing in the Swan and Canning rivers).
Commercial catch of Black Bream - note confidential catch not shown
- Burridge, CP and Versace, VL 2007, Population genetic structuring in Acanthopagrus butcheri (Pisces: Sparidae): does low gene flow among estuaries apply to both sexes? Marine Biotechnology 9, 33–44.
- Burridge, CP, Hurt, AC, Farrington, LW, Coutin, PC and Austin, CM 2004, Stepping stone gene flow in an estuarine dwelling sparid from south‐east Australia. Journal of Fish Biology 64, 805–819.
- Butcher, AD and Ling, JK 1962, Bream tagging experiments in East Gipsland during April and May 1944. Victorian Naturalist 78, 256–264.
- Chaplin, JA, Baudains, GA, Gill, HS, Mccullock, R and Potter, IC1997, Are assemblages of black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri) in different estuaries genetically distinct? International Journal of Salt Lake Research, 6(4):303–321.
- Cheshire, KJM, Ye, Q, Fredberg, LJ and Earl, J 2013, Aspects of reproductive biology of five key species in the Murray Mouth and Coorong. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2009/000014-3 SARDI Research Report Series No 699. 65pp.
- Conron S.D. (2004) Evaluation of recreational management controls of commercially important scalefish species. Final Report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project No. 1998/146. Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Queenscliff.
- Conron, S, Giri K, Hall, K and Hamer, P 2016, Gippsland Lakes Fisheries Assessment 2016. Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 14, Fisheries Victoria, Queenscliff.
- Conron, SD and Oliveiro, P 2016, State-wide Angler fishing Diary Program 2011–14 Recreational Fishing Grants Program Research Report June 2016. Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Queenscliff. 45 pp.
- Conron, SD, Bell, JD, Ingram, BA and Gorfine, HK 2020, Review of key Victorian fish stocks — 2019, Victorian Fisheries Authority Science Report Series No. 15, First Edition, November 2020. VFA: Queenscliff. 176pp.
- Conron, SD, Grixti D and Morison AK 2010, Survival of snapper and black bream released by recreational hook-and-line fishers in sheltered coastal temperate ecosystems. Final report to Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project No. 2003/074. Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff, Victoria.
- Cottingham, A 2008, The current state of the stock of Black Bream Acanthopagrus butcheri in the Swan-Canning Estuary. Honours Thesis, Murdoch University, Western Australia.
- Earl, J, Ward, TM and Ye, Q 2016, Black Bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri) Stock Assessment Report 2014/15. Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2008/000810-2. SARDI Research Report Series No. 885. 44pp.
- Farrington, LW, Austin, CM and Coutin, PC 2000, Allozyme variation and stock structure in the black bream, Acanthopagrus butcheri (Munro) (Sparidae) in southern Australia: implications for fisheries management, aquaculture and taxonomic relationship with Acanthopagrus australis (Gunther). Fisheries Management and Ecology 7, 265–279.
- Giri, K, Hall, K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey. Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62.
- Hall, DA 1984, The Coorong: Biology of the major fish species and fluctuations in catch rates 1976–1983, SAFIC 8(1), 3–17.
- Hindell, JS, Jenkins, GP and Womersley, B 2008, Habitat utilisation and movement of black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri (Sparidae) in an Australia estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 366, 219–229.
- Kailola, PJ, Williams, MJ Stewart, PC, Reichelt, RE, McNee, A and Graive, C 1993, Australian Fisheries Recourses. Canberra, Australia. Vol. Australian Fisheries Resources pp.18–320 (Bureau of Resource Sciences, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation; Brisbane).
- Kemp J, Brown L, Bridge N and Conron S 2013, Black Bream Stock Assessment 2012. Fisheries Victoria Assessment Report No 42.
- Kuiter, RH 1993, ʹCoastal fishes of southeastern Australia.ʹ (University of Hawaii Press: Honolulu, Hawaii).
- Lyle, JM, Stark KE and Tracey SR 2014, 2012-13 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart.
- Lyle, JM, Stark, KE, Ewing, GP and Tracey, SR 2019, 2017-18 Survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania.
- Lyle, JM, Tracey, SR, Stark KE and Wotherspoon, S 2009, 2007–08 survey of recreational fishing in Tasmania. Tasmania Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, Hobart.
- Murphy, JJ, Ochwada-Doyle, FA, West, LD, Stark, KE and Hughes, JM 2020, The NSW Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program - survey of recreational fishing, 2017/18. NSW DPI - Fisheries Final Report Series No. 158.
- Norriss, JV, Tregonning, JE, Lenanton, RCJ and Sarre, GA, 2002, Biological synopsis of the black bream, Acanthopagrus butcheri (Munro)(Teleostei: Sparidae) in Western Australia with reference to information from other southern states. Fisheries Research Report No.93, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
- Ochwada-Doyle, F, Roberts, D, Gray, C, Barnes, L, Haddy, J and Fearman, J 2012, Characterizing the biological traits and life history of Acanthopagrus (Sparidae) hybrid complexes: implications for conservation and management. Journal of Fish Biology, 81: 1540–1558.
- Roberts, DC, Gray, CA, West RF and Ayre, DJ 2009, Evolutionary impacts of hybridization and interspecific gene flow on an obligately estuarine fish. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22: 27–35.
- Roberts, DG, Gray, CA, West, RJ and Ayre, DJ 2010, Marine genetic swamping: hybrids replace an obligately estuarine fish. Molecular Ecology, 19: 508–520.
- Roberts, DG, Gray, CA, West, RJ and Ayre, DJ 2011, Temooral stability of a hybrid swarm between the migratory marine and estuaries fishes Acnathopagrus australis and A. butcheri, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 421: 199–204
- Sarre, GA and Potter, IC 2000, Variation in age compositions and growth rates of Acanthopagrus butcheri (Sparidae) among estuaries: some possible contributing factors. Fishery Bulletin 98, 785–799.
- Steer, MA, Fowler, AJ, Rogers, PJ, Bailleul, F, Earl, J, Matthews, D, Drew, M, and Tsolos, A, 2020, Assessment of the South Australian Marine Scalefish Fishery in 2018. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2017/000427-3. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1049. 214pp.
- Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA), June 2020. Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan 2020. 20 pp.
- Walker, S and Neira, F J 2001, Aspects of the reproductive biology and early life history of black bream, Acanthopagrus butcheri (Sparidae), in a brackish lagoon system in southeastern Australia. Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology, 4, 135–142.
- Williams, J, Hindell, JS, Swearer, SE and Jenkins GP 2012, Influence of freshwater flows on the distribution of eggs and larvae of black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri within a drought-affected estuary.
- Ye, Q, Bucater, L and Short, D, 2018, Coorong fish condition monitoring 2016/17: Black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri), greenback flounder (Rhombosolea tapirina) and smallmouthed hardyhead (Atherinosoma microstoma) populations. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2011/000471-6. SARDI Research Report Series No. 979. 89pp.
- Ye, Q, Bucater, L, Short, D and Giatas, G 2020, Coorong fish condition monitoring 2008-2019: Black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri), greenback flounder (Rhombosolea tapirina) and smallmouthed hardyhead (Atherinosoma microstoma) populations. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2011/000471-7. SARDI Research Report Series No. 1066. 97 pp.
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